Gada personal manufacturing prize announced!

The Foresight Institute, a think tank concentrating on the possibilities and potential hazards of emerging and potentially disruptive technologies has announced the Kartik M. Gada Personal Manufacturing Prize totaling $100kus. Part of an effort to spur the development of rapid fabrication and manufacturing technologies at the grassroots level, the prize aims to help bootstrap the quality of life of people living in the twenty most poor economies on the planet. The idea is to lower the cost of entry to the field of manufacturing commodity personal goods by making use of recyclable materials and cheap to construct additive fabbers. The prize consists of two distinct awards, one of $20kus and one of $80kus.

The interim award of $20kus will be awarded by 31 December 2012 to the first project which meets a certain set of requirements. Namely, the fabber must be able to extrude three different construction materials, one of which must be electrically conductive, which dovetails nicely into the second requirement of being able to fabricate circuit boards. The fabber's feedstock must be reusable no less than twenty times before it must be replaced. The fabber must be cheap to construct, costing no more than $200us and at least 90% of the components must themselves be printable (in the same fashion as a RepRap's components). The fabber must be able to print a device larger than 12x12x4 (inches), which basically means that it must construct things you use every day (like moderately complex hand tools). It must be able to generate a single set of all of its printable parts within ten days' time with only one malfunction of the extruder. It must not rely upon a computer, though it may interface with one if such is available. It must also require less than 60 watts of power, which would lend it to being powered by wind, solar, or someone riding a jerry-rigged bicycle.

The grand prize of $80kus will be awarded three years after the interim prize to the project which meets a few more requirements than the first. Largely, it is focused upon speeding up the replication process (seven days instead of ten) but there are a few other aspects that the projects will be judged by. The grand prize winner must make use of relatively cheap feedstock, on the order of $4us/kg (which can be a lot of material if you think about it); additionally, recycling other materials into feedstock factors in prominently.

Participating teams are expected to publish their results regularly for peer review and collaboration. It is expected that the teams will bounce ideas and developments off of each other, and that the rosters of the teams could change over time. If, during the course of the competition teams co-operate with one another and thus improve all 3D printers they worked on, the grand prize may be divided up among the teams at the discretion of the judges. Also, all of their technologies must be made available to everyone under the GPL or BSD licenses for maximum availability.